Avon Publications started in 1941 by publishing comics and digest magazines, and was one of the first American companies to publish paperback books following the success of Pocket Books, the inventors of the pocket-sized mass market paperback. Avon’s early digest magazines are now highly collectible; Avon Fantasy Reader (1946-52) was edited by Donald A. Wollheim featuring lurid covers and stories by many now famous pulp authors who, at the time, were not well known.
Avon was an influential publisher of romance and horror in the late 1960s and 1970s. The 1972 novel The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was “the first full-length romance novel to be published first in paperback rather than hardback” according to Wikipedia. The Flame and the Flower is cited by romance scholar Janice Radway as a landmark work responsible for the explosion of historical romance novels in a similar vein; it sold over two million copies and set the stage for Avon’s later romance titles to hit the bestseller lists.
For a period of time from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, Avon had a strong showing in the horror field with solid entries like The Auctioneer by Joan Samson and The Godsend by Bernard Taylor. Avon’s paperback originals launched the careers of some well-known horror and thriller authors including Robert McCammon, Michael McDowell, and William Hallahan. All Avon horror novels I have read that were published during this period range from good to excellent.
Avon now focuses primarily on publishing romance titles. They were acquired by the New York publishing conglomerate HarperCollins in 2010.
These cover scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright. Please note that Realms of Night has an eBay page with occasional horror auctions. Follow our page and save us as a favorite seller for updates.
Avon Titles Spotted in the Wild